San Francisco Queers Say No Pride in Apartheid

In March, over 100 members of the LGBT/queer community sent the following letter to Frameline, organizer of the San Francisco International Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans Film Festival, which according to its website is the largest LGBT cultural event in the world. The letter asks Frameline to honor calls for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions, by discontinuing Israeli consulate sponsorship of the LGBT film festival and not cosponsoring events with the Israeli consulate. Not only has the Israeli consulate been a sponsor of the film festival for the last several years, but in 2005 Frameline was also a sponsor of Israel In The Park, an annual event celebrating the anniversary of the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Frameline directors Michael Lumpkin and Matt Westendorf responded that “Frameline’s senior staff and Board Executive Committee … recognize that there are legitimate issues with some of the actions of the Israeli government — as there are with actions of our own government,” but have declined to discontinue sponsorship.

This demand was initiated by members of Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) and Bay Area SWANA (SouthWest Asian and North African) Queer communities. The activists will be leafleting at the film festival asking filmgoers to write, call or email Frameline and let them know that they disagree with their decision. Some Frameline donors have indicated that they might discontinue support for the organization if they do not disengage from the consulate.

Address your concerns to:
Michael Lumpkin and Matt Westendorf,
145 Ninth Street, #300,
San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-703-8650,
Please cc quitpalestine AT yahoo DOT com.

An Open Letter to Program Director Michael Lumpkin and Managing Director Matt Westendorf:

For the last several years, the Israeli Consulate-General has been a sponsor of the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival.

In the last year, a call has gone out from Palestinian artists and their allies, including some Israelis, for a cultural boycott of the Israeli government because of its appalling disregard for international law and human rights. This call has been joined by over 100 artists and writers, including filmmakers Sophie Fiennes, Elia Suleiman, Ken Loach, Haim Bresheeth, and Jenny Morgan, writers John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Ahdaf Soueif, and Eduardo Galeano, and musicians Brian Eno and Leon Rosselson. The call states, in part:

Given that all forms of international intervention have until now failed to force Israel to comply with international law or to end its repression of the Palestinians, which has manifested itself in many forms, including siege, indiscriminate killing, wanton destruction and the racist colonial wall, …

In the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression,

We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid …

In recognition of the urgent and moral importance of this call, organizers of both the Edinburgh and Locarno International Film Festivals dropped Israeli government sponsorship of their most recent festivals in 2006.

As members of the Bay Area queer community, as members, former members and prospective members of Frameline, and as members of Frameline’s audience, we request that you respect this call and not solicit or accept funding from the Israeli consulate until Israel complies with international law and international standards of human rights in regard to its illegal occupation of Palestine.

As a community that has experienced and continues to experience constant denial of our human rights and indeed, denial of our right to exist, our community has long been in the forefront of struggles for human rights for all people. We are very proud of this tradition, and we know that you are too. For an institution in our community to provide positive publicity to a government whose human rights violations have attracted worldwide censure disrespects this tradition.

It offends our commitment to inclusiveness, justice and nonviolent resistance for the Israeli government to be among the sponsors of one of the signature events of Pride month.

QUIT! is a grassroots nonviolent direct action group based in San Francisco that has been active against war and occupation since early 2001.

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